BHA say no disqualification threats from six whip referrals at Cheltenham festival

Only one of the referrals was for a winning ride, and that was not for use above the permitted level

The British Horseracing Authority has said there are six referrals for use of the whip at this week’s Cheltenham festival but none face the threat of a horse being disqualified.

The run-up to the festival was dogged by controversy over the recent introduction of new BHA regulations on use of the whip that included potential disqualification if a jockey used their whip 11 times or more on a horse.

Jockeys based in Ireland were expected to be at particular risk of breaching the rules as they didn’t have the benefit of the same ‘bedding-in’ period as cross-channel riders had to get used to them.

Gordon Elliott was among some high-profile figures who were anxious about the possibility of horses being disqualified at Cheltenham.


However, that scenario appears to have been avoided after the BHA reported on Friday evening that none of the 444 rides at Cheltenham had resulted in a referral to next week’s whip review committee that might cause a disqualification.

Without giving specific names the BHA said: “Of the six referrals only one was for a winning ride. Three of the referrals were for use above the permitted level, two of incorrect place and one for above shoulder height.

“The referral for the one winning ride was not for use above the permitted level.”

The BHA also noted that rules for hitting a horse in the wrong place didn’t change, so two of the referrals don’t relate to the new guidelines.

The weekly whip review committee was set up to examine whip rule breaches and will take place early next week. The referral allows bookmakers pay out on results on the day.

A number of disqualifications have already occurred since the new whip regime was introduced last month.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column